"You fought till the end" - New Canadian Media
Mahrukh and Mayank Bhatt immigrated to Toronto in 2008 from Mumbai, India, where they both worked as journalists. Mayank worked at the Indo-Canada Chamber of Commerce at the time of his death in 2022. He is the author of Belief, a novel published in 2016 by Mawenzi House. Submitted photo.

“You fought till the end”

Mahrukh Bhatt in Toronto recounts the difficult journey with her husband who died of pancreatic cancer and the unfillable void it has left in their lives.

It has been a little more than a year since you left us. So much has happened in the past year. And to use a timeworn phrase, it feels like just yesterday. 

The circumstances that led to the day it all happened is still fresh in my mind. I keep thinking that if you wouldn’t have fallen that Sunday, would we still have some more days with you? The palliative care doctor had told us that we just had a few more days with you. 

In the two years since we found out about your pancreatic cancer and till the day you passed away in August, 2022, our son, Che, and I just threw ourselves into taking care of you. We were in caregiving mode. We tried to do whatever we could to make you comfortable to prolong the outcome that we knew was hanging over us. You fought till the end. Probably, that gave us the strength to fight, too. 

I remember it was Ramzan Eid and you went to the ER as Toronto Health told you to go there as they thought your back pain could be COVID-related. You were complaining about back pain for more than a month and we thought it was due to your sitting posture as you were working from home. The doctors did not find anything and they sent you home after a few days. 

You called your family doctor and he recommended an ultrasound and that seemed to set a whole set of wheels in motion. The day when the doctors at Humber Hospital told us you had last-stage pancreatic cancer, we fell apart, cried our eyes and heart out. 

We came home completely broken and started looking into our paperwork. You explained to me about house maintenance, utilities, insurance and banking. I had never worried about all this and I could feel the burden of it all and it scared me. I wasn’t sure I would be able to cope. 

But here I am looking into all those things and more, but still feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I am not sure how I went through with my day-to-day activities; it is all a haze now. I used to sit with you through the chemo sessions and I think that is what brought us all the more closer together, making us forget whatever differences we had, just remembering the good days.

That year 2020 we were supposed to have celebrated our 25th anniversary. We were planning to throw a party and click special photos. 

Nothing happened. 

I stepped down from my supervisor position so I could give more time at home. In fact, I never felt regret about it. I forgot about myself for those two years. I did whatever I could to make it easy for you, Mayank; we still did have our outbursts in the early days as we were all very highly strung. 

I went through the motions of completing all the formalities after you passed away. Everyone said I was strong and would be able to overcome it. You left a vacuum, which I haven’t been able to fill. I did not realize that it would hit me so hard.  I don’t know what to do with myself once I come back from work.

Here I should say that Che has been a big support as he was working from home and could keep an eye on you, give you lunch, in between snacks and meds. And now Che takes care of me. He is constantly keeping a watch over me to see that I don’t fall into the depression trap. 

This past year 2023 hasn’t been great for me health-wise because I probably ignored myself over the last two years.

There are days when I feel I want to go watch a movie and realize you are not here; I don’t want to go alone. The 501 streetcar rides we used to take at least once a year from Queen Street to Longbranch and then go to Port Credit, or sometimes take the East route to Neville Park and go to the beaches there. They are just memories now. 

We are getting on with our life and trying to come to terms with whatever happened. We were together for 28 years and that counts for a lot.

May this serve as a living tribute to your memory, Mayank. Be peaceful in heaven.

Please share our stories!

Mahrukh Bhatt began her career with “The Daily” tabloid in Mumbai, before becoming a consulting editor for various media companies in India. In Canada, she acquired a diploma in social work, worked as a facilitator, before beginning a long stint with Home Depot in various roles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.